A federal bill that bans workplace
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
(transgender protections) won't see a vote in the House in the near
term, gay weekly The
Washington Blade reported.
Both houses of Congress held hearings
on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) last fall. Democrats
linked to the legislation have tended to over-promise and
under-deliver on the legislation which stubbornly remains locked up
On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
said the vote won't take place until after Congress completes
legislative action on repealing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993
law that forbids gay service members from revealing their sexuality.
Language that repeals the law was tucked inside next year's Defense
Authorization Bill with the help of only five House Republicans. GOP
lawmakers united in an attempt to defeat repeal of the gay ban by
overwhelmingly voting against the defense bill.
“ENDA is a personal priority for me,”
the San Francisco lawmaker said, “and I [understand] the focus for
that, but because the defense bill came up now, we did 'Don't Ask,
Don't Tell' first. But we want to finish that.”
Congress historically finishes work on
the budget in the fall.
In discussing the bill's viability,
Pelosi suggested it faces a far steeper incline than previously
“It's nothing to take for granted in
terms of nine Republicans voted for the defense authorization bill,”
An upsurge of opposition against the
bill from Republicans has already materialized. In May,
Representative John Campbell, a California Republican who voted for a
similar measure in 2007, told the Boston Globe that this
year's version, which includes transgender protections, “pushes the
envelope too far.”
And support from moderate Democrats
also appears to be on the wane.
The chief whip of the Blue Dogs,
Representative Heath Shuler of North Carolina, said that asking House
members to vote on a trans-inclusive bill during an election year
would be “a mistake.”
The delay spells trouble for the
legislation. Conventional wisdom suggests Democratic leaders will
follow Shuler's advice and shelve ENDA until after the General
Election, in which many analysts expect Democrats to lose seats to
Republicans, further eroding support for the bill.